Its full steam ahead inside new eatery Coal Rooms, which takes over the former ticket office at London’s Peckham Rye Station.
Coal Rooms is the latest venture from Richard Robinson and Cemal Ezel, co-founders of local haunts the Old Spike Roastery, Spike + Earl, Aside and coffee-based charity Change Please. The pair enlisted local practice Kennedy Woods Architecture to transform the space into a café and bar while navigating the challenges of its Grade II listing.
Co-principal Chris Kennedy quips that the design style of Coal Rooms’ is ‘like a smart jacket worn with a t-shirt and Nike flyknits’. He adds: ‘In all seriousness though, given its context in Peckham (an area we know and love, and where our studio is based) we wanted the interiors to reflect the refinement of the food offering but make sure it didn’t feel too fancy to put locals off.’
Each room has been given its own identity: in the high-footfall café, cool concrete floors have been paired with the hard finishes of a white terrazzo bar top, and bespoke metal framed tables with timber or terrazzo tops.
The more intimate dining room features beech furniture with crushed velvet upholstery and line-washed chevron plank flooring, which lends the space a more storied and softer feel.
A striking staircase also provides a focal design point for Coal Rooms and skirts the issues of the building’s listing: ‘It had to “float” off from the walls, and not put any new load onto them,’ explains Kennedy. ‘We exaggerated this effect in the design by not having a central balustrade – just a screen of timber slats running the full height of the ground and first floor.’
Another surprising highlight is the original 1930s bathrooms: the mosaic floors, cubicles and historic ironmongery have been carefully restored, while some of the vaulted spaces themselves are put to new use. ‘We converted the gents into a unisex washroom, and the ladies to a butchery and pastry prep kitchen that becomes a private dining room in the evenings,’ adds Kennedy. ‘You feel like you’re in another world.’
What can diners expect on the menu?
‘I would be lying if I was to say that meat wasn’t going to be a key focus of the new space!’ says Richard Robinson. While Coal Rooms’ flatbreads are cooked in the kitchen’s coal oven, a range of meat cuts – including cabrito goat chop and 40-day-aged Dexter sirloin – come courtesy of the on-site butchers.